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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Aaron vs. The Chair (Some Assembly Required)

I have a confession to make; I failed 1st grade art. Some people on the spectrum are gifted in the arts and making something by directions on paper is easy. For me? Well, the term "some assembly required" is a one way ticket to frustration and possibly hilarity.

I received my racing chair today that I bought so I could actually race on iRacing without having extensive pains in my back. Receiving it was easy, but the hours that followed was nothing short of painful.

The box it came in had dimensions of 40x24x22.5 (all in inches) at 110 pounds. The finished product is huge, but I had to begin by taking each part out of the box.

My journey in assembling this chair started off rocky. I can sit down and be so self aware that I come up with amazing logical metaphors to describe why I do the things I do, yet taking off bubble wrap is something that reduces me to an angry person that just wants to throw things (I did, but it was a bouncy ball so it wasn't that bad).

After slicing the top part of my skin several times with a knife I realized that instead of cutting through the wrap I could simply unwrap it. I was glad nobody saw me when I had this revelation because I had the largest grin on my face and felt like I solved one of life's little mysteries. For most people this might come naturally, but to me anything that involves spacial relations and the need for physical movement makes me look like I have no idea what I am doing (because I don't!)

Once everything was unwrapped I had to decide what went where. I took out the directions and it had a visual depiction of the finished product, but I am unable to look at a picture and follow it because I can't see the picture and see the parts that are in front of me. This goes towards the thing I have written about that, "If you've met one person with autism you've only met one person with autism" because there are other people on the spectrum that could see that picture for a half second and be able to assemble it without a problem. I had lots of problems.

After 10 minutes of staring at the pile of parts the only thing that made sense was the big chair. The chair was the easy part as it didn't need to be touched, but the frame around it made no sense to me.

I then did something I rarely do; I asked for help. My friend Ryan, the same Ryan that I went to the Indy 500 with, was eager to help and I started a video chat session on the Xbox.

Ryan is a tool buff and he said, "I'd give anything to be there assembling it" and I thought to myself, "Why would anyone want to torture themselves like that" because, to me, this was impossible. I was dealing with bolts, nuts, and washers. After dealing with washers I still have no idea why they are needed except to annoy the person assembling the object.

Minutes, then an hour went by and nothing was getting done. It just didn't make any sense and finally, FINALLY I got the main frame connected. It wasn't that hard, once I figured it out as holes on one side meet holes on the other and slide the bolt it and done. D'oh I had to dissemble it to put on those stupid washers. Then it was done.

The next part was to put the seat onto the frame. The directions called for me to put bolts through the sliders of the chair. This sounded easy, but was another hour of frustration and the only thing that kept me going was thinking about how much fun it would be to write how difficult it was for me.

After another hour of struggle I got three of the four bolts in and called it at that. I don't know if something bad will happen or if the seat will collapse, but three out of four isn't bad in my book. Well, I didn't have a choice because there's no way to get that bolt in, and then if I did get it in there wasn't a chance in North Dakota that I was going to get that washer on.

After that was on I started to know what a bolt, washer, and nut looked like. Putting in the steering wheel supports and pedal supports came easier than before. I quit looking at the directions because it talked in technical terms such as, "Put the bolt through holes 2 and 3 and but the flat washer and nut around the bolt to support the arm..."

I learned this. If there is a hole on part A and a hole on part B they probably go together. I got lost in the directions of everything so I started to wing it and before I knew it my chair was complete. I had conquered the task of assembling something and I do believe this is the first thing I have ever made without physical help.

Ryan gave me advice during the ordeal and at first I discounted it. I knew what I was going, or so I thought, even though I was as lost as one could possibly be. The directions didn't help me because it talked in terms of forward and back and reverse and I simply can't process that information. It's like a wall prevents me for grasping it.

Whatever the case I did it. It was a struggle and I got more angry than I'd like to admit, but I guess this proves I am actually human after all. In all reality I am elated because I did it. While I may be elated now I don't think I will volunteer to do anything that requires assembling for quite some time. Once a decade is enough!


  1. AH HA! The real reason for cleaning your room! This could have been your very first blog-video. That would have been funny!

  2. Wow, I do think I missed out on the chance at the video. Although I don't know if I would want to show myself yelling at the bolts and constantly asking Ryan, "So, what's a washer for again?"

  3. Aaron, great job!! I know I couldn't have done that even with a friend helping me. :)

  4. The video chat was lets say...interesting! I would have jumped through the TV to have the chance to put that together if I could. I find it interesting that Aaron loves puzzles, etc yet doesn't find entertainment in putting things together. To me they seem like they would be pretty similar. Each piece is one piece of the puzzle that makes a bigger thing. He argued that it wasn't "concrete," but I didn't get the argument :)

  5. Aaron, I agree with you about washers. My dad says they are necessary, but I disbelieve him.

  6. Great job for putting it together Aaron :)
    To Ryan: Oh I do understand the puzzle thingy. I love puzzles myself too, but hate putting things together. With this I feel I'm very similar as Aaron. Puzzles are hard to solve sometimes, but give you straightforward rules and objective and tools.
    When putting things together with a manual that has long technical explanations, it isn't as clear. As such it's not just a matter of putting it together, but also understanding what the tools are and how you're supposed to even put it together.
    I'm not sure if I explained it right like this, I'm sure Aaron is way better at explaining it... Something seems to be missing in my explanation, but I don't know what... But I hope this came somewhat close.

    PS: I can't seem to figure out how to change my nickname? Google just goes and uses the wrong name -.- I don't like 'habbofannies' -.- My actual nickname I always use is Issha.

  7. Yes, it may be a puzzle, but the pieces of the puzzle don't make since. One, the whole washer thing STILL confuses me, and I don't get the directions of it. I see things differently in my mind, and making something out of parts can't be done in my mind. I can see the parts, and I can visualize the finished version, but it isn't concrete in the way it gets made.

    On top of all this when they say 3mm of 4mm bolt or nut, or whatever, I don't know the size of each one. I can't estimate sizes and since I don't have a ruler I just hope I choose the right one. Even after I know I chose the right size I will have the same sturggle with the next one because I won't remember the size.

    Bottom line, assembly is a puzzle in a language I don't understand and I hope I don't have to put one together for quite some time!

  8. I've been up your way for a time Aaron and have missed a few days posts. I"m really sorry because this one was FUN!. You are correct as correct can be. This truly shows you're human ;-) We all get angry when it comes time "for some assembly required." A parent's worst nightmare during the holidays, next to the sold out hottest toy of the season. I can relate to the pain, and I write those directions for a living. My 9 yo grandson however, is the Aspie with the spatial skill to look at the picture and figure out the instructions. Amazing the differences amongst us all. Keep up the good work Aaron.